Performance jazz albums are a rare gem, and composer, guitarist and co-founder of the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, Darrell Katz embarks on the adventure with the same enthralling curiosity that you would imagine Louis and Clark had when they set out on exploring the Mid-west of America. Like the journeymen Louis and Clark, Katz had an idea about where he was going with his compositions for his latest offering with JCA entitled The Same Thing, but how his ideas would materialize was pure guess work. Like he did with JCA's 2003 record, The Death Of Simone Weil, Katz once again showcases the texts of Paula Tatarunis as interpreted by vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton and Warren Senders on peripheral text messages for the group's new record. With the JCA making the melodic waves and Katz placing his cursor on the shifts in the currents, The Same Thing has its moments of calmness and chaos all moving the stories towards their destination of finding reconciliation.
Each track is composed of several movements which continually shift the tempo and the melodic ruffles trading off the plumes of brilliant bursts with bars that implode onto themselves. Katz is meticulous about what instruments are ladled into the mixtures and where to place the fissures that adjust the instruments textures to the mood of the lyrics. The lead track "December 14, 1994" reflects the mindset of a gunman who shot seven people at two Massachusetts women's health clinics on that date. Katz uses dark, eerie tones and chord fragments that depict angst and internal struggling. The music is hard and edgy reminiscent of the sarcophagus echoes of music in Halloween-themed movies, often bordering on having a Gothic sonorous. The music regularly mirrors animal-type characteristics like the seething sounds in "Like A Wind," or the frolicking movements of "Everybody Loves Ray Charles" which has a tinge of gospel and blues snorkeling through its brass voicing. The title track is an unromantic look at love with burly raptures, odd-angled time signatures, and crudely textured chord ravels. Each composition is intricately detailed moving through its moments of complexity and minimalism, and always adjusting its platform to accommodate the Shrimpton's vocals.
Darrell Katz is director of the Jazz Composer Alliance, an organization which he helped co-found in 1985. The JCA have premiered nearly 150 new works by JCA composers-in-residence and guest composers, including commissioned works from Muhal Richard Abrams, Marty Ehrlich, and Maria Schneider. Through the Signature Concert Series, the group has also presented works by Henry Threadgill, Dave Holland, Steve Lacy, and Oliver Lake among many others. The group's latest release with composer/guitarist Darrell Katz, The Same Thing is a performance jazz piece that takes patrons through a sonic rollercoaster of emotions. Similar to a rollercoaster ride, the music will rise to a level where you will feel your skin ready to rip off your face and just then the ride subsides to a lukewarm stroll, as too does Katz's compositions. That is until the next crest leading to a free falling experience. Katz's compositions really keep the listeners on the edge of their seats and never knowing what expect next.